In 2014, Chinese-American scientist Sherry Chen was arrested and accused of espionage. That case went nowhere, but the U.S. Commerce Department still fired her from the National Weather Service. In April, the agency was ordered to re-instate Chen. CGTN’s Mark Niu reports.
It was a day Beijing-born, U.S. citizen Sherry Chen had been waiting for – for three and a half years.
“I have been waiting and waiting for someone, with authority, to come out publicly to clear my name and set the facts straight, to say that all the allegations against me were false. The judge did just that.”
The award-winning hydrologist held back tears in speaking those words at a press event sponsored by the Committee of 100 – an organization of prominent Chinese Americans that also contributed to her legal defense fund.
In Chen’s case, the judge ruled she was a victim of gross injustice.
And she’s not alone.
Research by visiting scholar at South Texas College of Law Andrew Kim found that the percentage of people of Chinese heritage charged under the Economic Espionage Act has tripled since 2009 to 52%, and for people of Asian heritage up to 62-percent.
“Asians and people of Chinese descent are being disproportionately prosecuted,” said Kim. “But what’s even more disturbing is that so many of them are innocent. As many as one in five Asian people accused of espionage are innocent. That’s a rate that’s double that for other races. With numbers that stark it’s hard to believe there’s nothing going on here.”
For Sherry Chen, living under a cloud of suspicion has made life extremely difficult.
“Tell you the truth, we haven’t told my mom yet. Until now, we decide not to because we can imagine the bad things that will happen to her,” said Chen.
Chen’s legal team is preparing a lawsuit for malicious prosecution and false arrest.
But in such a tense environment, does she truly want to go back to work?
“I’ve been dreaming several times,” said Chen. “I can tell you one story last time we had a deposition; my lawyer and I went to my office. That’s like two years after I was handcuffed and led away from my office. Get into the office, everyone came out and hugged me. And we all have tears. The job I really love. I put so much of my energy and my time.”
But Chen isn’t completely in the clear. The U.S. Department of Commerce still has until May 28th to decide whether to appeal the case.